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Today I saw a leader of an organisation do something that I have never seen done before and it had an amazing impact on everybody in the room. The Managing Director of a global healthcare organisation gave feedback to each of her direct reports in a way that will have a lasting, uplifting impact on them I suspect for the rest of their lives.

Here’s what she did.

She approached everybody that reports into the leadership team and asked them for feedback on their leader. However, she didn’t stop there.

Specifically, she asked them to give her some words or phrases that would give her insight into

(a) the greatest strengths each leader has and
(b) what they like the most about working for that person.

Initially she received feedback by email, she told the team, and then she followed up with a conversation with individuals and groups. This allowed her to get more anecdotal stories and greater insight into each leader that she was receiving feedback upon.

She then continued by saying to the team collected in front of her;

However, she did not stop there.

She took the feedback for everybody and created a visual word cloud that captured the main comments and consistent themes that emerged. She then framed each of these into a picture frame.

Today at the end of a leadership team meeting she got up in the front of the room to talk about the last 12 months and how proud she was of the team in terms of its achievements.

She then continued by saying:

“Not only am I convinced that you are all the right people to be on this team, I know for sure that everyone who reports to you is also convinced you are the right people to lead this organisation.

How do I know?  I went and asked them … !”

A pin could have dropped in the room as people waited in anticipation as to what was coming next. She then individually presented each person with their framed word cloud and gave an individual tailored narration as to what their team had said about them and why that leader was important to each team as well as the impact they were having.

Brilliant.

As an observer of this process it was amazing to watch how everybody filled with pride “for their colleagues“. As everybody was receiving the feedback and framed word cloud their colleagues beamed with pride as they listened to the feedback that was being shared. The room felt palpably different at the end of the 40 minutes. The trials and tribulations that the team had undergone in the previous 12 months suddenly seemed to dissipate into the ether. All the effort they had put in to turn around an organisation seemed minimal compared to the verbal and positive feedback they were receiving from…effectively the organisation.

What struck me afterwards was how simple an act this was by their leader.

The idea of approaching members of the organisation to give feedback to their leaders in two specific areas and then to delve a bit deeper is one thing but then to take that positive feedback and with a genuine sense of authenticity create something memorable for each of those leaders was entirely different.

To top it off was to take the time to present that to them in a public forum in front of their peers and genuinely share her pride in the fact that they were on the team I think is relatively unique. It was the best positive leadership team feedback session I have ever been a part of.

Well done, leader!

Well done, team.

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